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Student forced to miss equal marriage march flies Pride flag at graduation instead

By Will Stroude

A student at Queen’s University Belfast refused to let her graduation ceremony stand in the way of her joining thousands of others in calling for marriage equality in Northern Ireland over the weekend.

Ciara Cinnamond, a 23-year-old Politics, Philosophy and Economic student, found herself unable to join Saturday’s march for equal marriage in Belfast after it was scheduled to take place at the same time as her graduation ceremony.

Rather than of miss out on the chance to demand the right to marry in Northern Ireland – which remains the only part of the UK where gay couples are deprived of the right to wed – Ciara decided to bring the march to the ceremony instead.

Cheered on by her parents and girlfriend, the student proudly brandished a Pride flag a she was called on stage to graduate at Queen’s University’s Whitla Hall on Saturday (July 1).

“I knew that I would be graduating on the same day as the march for equality and despite not being physically present, I wanted to be there in spirit at least,” Ciara told Irish News.

“I was at the march last year and to be surrounded by so much love, strength and happiness was incredible.

“I wanted to take that feeling of solidarity across the stage with me. What I did at my graduation was only one small incident in a far greater campaign aimed at getting equal marriage for everyone.

“I want the opportunity to marry the person that I love and in that moment, I marched too.”

Lawmakers’ attempts to legalise equal marriage in Northern Ireland have been repeatedly blocked by the country’s hard-line conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which recently finalised a deal to prop up Theresa May’s minority Westminster government in exchange for an extra £1 billion for Northern Ireland.

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